What to Know
Someone in a dark SUV threw a suspicious object into an NYPD van in Times Square shortly before midnight
The officers drove out of Times Square before tossing the device to protect the crowds
They both said they thought it was a bomb
The NYPD sergeant and officer who drove out of Times Square after a man tossed a suspicious device into their van late Wednesday, inciting a bomb scare in the Crossroads of the World followed by an hours-long standoff, say they thought it was an explosive -- and they didn't think they'd survive.
"I looked around and saw kids and young people," said NYPD sergeant Hameed Armani, a single father who immigrated to the U.S. from Afghanistan. "I said, 'We're gonna go, but I'm not gonna have anyone go with us.'"
Armani, a 10-year NYPD veteran, and officer Peter Cybulski, who has been with the NYPD three years, were parked in the heart of Times Square shortly before midnight when the man threw the object -- later determined to be a candle attached to electrical components and wrapped in cloth -- into their vehicle.
Seeing a flickering light and assuming the worst, they drove east to 46th Street, getting out of the densely trafficked area, and tossed the object onto the street at Sixth Avenue. The bomb squad determined the device to be harmless shortly after 1:10 a.m. Thursday, but both officers are being hailed as heroes for driving the potentially dangerous device away from the crowds.
"We knew what each other was thinking," said Cybulski. "We weren't going to let anything happen in Times Square."
About an hour after the scare, police spotted the man in the Chrysler SUV and attempted to stop the vehicle in Columbus Circle. The man refused to get out of his vehicle and put on the helmet. That sparked a standoff with police, who surrounded the SUV with armored vehicles and officers in tactical gear.
Hours later, the man was taken into custody. No one was hurt.
New Yorkers took to social media to laud the cops' bravery -- a sentiment echoed by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton at a news briefing after the standoff.
"These two officers are heroes of the NYPD, heroes of New York City," Bratton said. "We come to work everyday not knowing, quite literally, what will be thrown at us."